Learning to Cook with 'Basically 10x10': Recipe 2
Hello and welcome to week two (err...recipe two) of Basically 10x10! Last week I learned all about weekday Basically Spaghetti Pomodoro…and I was thoroughly satisfied. This week’s recipe is a Steak Salad. Yeah...a steak salad. Now. I am not the judgemental type (looking at all of you salad lovers out there), but I am definitely not the gal who gets the casual hankering for a salad, especially as an entree. Give me pasta, give me a sandwich, give me roasted veggies, heck - give me mashed potatoes and gravy, but a salad...for dinner...really?? It goes without saying that I was skeptical when I saw this was next up in the 10x10 schedule but Alex Delany promised it would be all of the good things (hearty, flavorful, FILLING), so hell, if Delany says it’s time to learn, then it looks like I am going to school.
So I dove in. I’ve already mentioned my lack of enthusiasm for salads, but have I explained my ineptitude for preparing a steak? I simply don’t have the skillset or the confidence to casually cook a steak on a Thursday evening. Turns out, the salad wasn’t too bad, and the NY Strip my boyfriend picked up from Bare Bones Butcher was beautiful. So once I got over the pressure of preparing such a fine hunk of meat, I got to cooking (It turned out perfectly, by the way -- thanks in large part to my meat thermometer recommended by Patrick at BBB)...and the biggest lesson I learned? “Always be seasoning” - phrased perfectly by Alex Delany. You’ll learn all of this in the below breakdown, but it really does make a difference to season every element - the greens, the avocado, the cucumbers, the tomatoes, and definitely that beautiful steak.
2 servings as a big dinner / 4 as a light lunch
** Assistance images from Basically
1 1½"-thick boneless New York strip steak (about 12 oz.) Get this from your local butcher shop - we recommend Bare Bones Butcher
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small shallot
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 Persian cucumbers
1 head of butter lettuce
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 sprigs thyme
1 ripe avocado
What You’ll Need
Cast Iron Skillet
1. Pat steak dry with paper towels and place on a clean plate. Season very generously all over with salt and pepper. (Think four-fingered pinches of salt—rich proteins like steak need a lot more salt than you might think.) Let it sit at room temperature while you prep your other salad components, at least an hour if possible. (Don't worry: It's safe, and a room-temperature steak will cook more evenly than it will straight out of the fridge.)
Note: I would have never known to dry it with paper towels prior to seasoning it. I would have also never guessed to let the steak sit at room temperature. The things you learn!
2. Salad dressing time! Peel and finely chop 1 shallot and transfer to a medium bowl. Add 1 Tbsp. mustard and 1 Tbsp. vinegar and whisk to combine. Here comes the fun part: Whisking constantly, slowly stream in 5 Tbsp. olive oil until dressing is thick and emulsified. The word "slowly" is key here—if you add the oil all at once, you won't get the creamy, nicely-incorporated vinaigrette you're after. Whisk in 1 Tbsp. water to thin the dressing out a bit. Season with salt to taste, and add another splash of vinegar if you like—it should taste good and punchy.
Note: A first for me!...and I do not think I’ll ever buy store-bought salad dressing ever again.
3. Prep your other salad ingredients. Slice 1 pint cherry tomatoes in half and transfer to a medium bowl. Slice 2 cucumbers into thin coins and transfer to bowl with tomatoes. Separate lettuce leaves and arrange on a large platter. Cover the lettuce with damp paper towels and chill in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble.
4. Heat a dry cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Pat steak dry again (the salt will have drawn out some moisture). Seriously: You want the meat to be as dry as possible, which is key to getting the handsome, crusty sear you're after. Rub steak with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil. When we're searing things like steak or chops, we like to oil the surface of the meat rather than the surface of the pan—this allows us to use less oil, and also cuts down on (the inevitable) smoke that comes with this kind of cooking. Speaking of which, this is a good time to turn on the vent above your stove, open a window, and/or get ready to (temporarily!!) deactivate your smoke detector.
5. Using tongs, gently lay steak in preheated pan. Cook undisturbed—as in, resist the urge to futz with it!—until a golden brown crust forms, about 3 minutes. Turn steak and cook on second side for another 3 minutes.
6. Turn steak to sear around thinner sides and fat cap until browned, then continue to cook 1 minute per side until steak is medium-rare in the center, 3–5 minutes longer. If you have an instant-read thermometer and you’re uncertain about doneness, insert it into the center of the steak and look for a reading of 120–125°. Continue to cook until you get there.
Note: The steak cooked waayyyyyy faster than I expected. Be careful not to overcook!
7. Remove skillet from heat. Transfer steak to cutting board briefly to rest. Wipe out skillet with a paper towel to remove any blackened oil. Let skillet cool 1–2 minutes, then heat over medium-low. Have a spoon close at hand. Return steak to skillet. Add 2 Tbsp. butter and 2 sprigs thyme and tilt skillet toward you so butter foams and pools along one side. Make sure thyme is swimming in the butter so it can really infuse. Use spoon to scoop up foamy butter and baste over top of steak constantly until butter is fragrant and browned, about 1 minute. Transfer steak to cutting board. It should rest at least 10 minutes—you never want to cut into a steak without resting first, otherwise it will lose a lot of juiciness.
8. Build your salad: Remove platter of lettuce from refrigerator; season with salt and pepper. (We always like to season our greens before we dress them.) Whisk dressing to combine and drizzle about half over lettuce.
9. Season tomatoes and cucumbers with salt and pepper. (In case you haven't noticed by now, making sure to season all of your components is key.) Toss with a couple of tablespoons of dressing and arrange in a row along one side of lettuce.
Note: “Always be seasoning.”
10. Halve 1 avocado, remove pit, and thinly slice. Fan out slices and arrange over top of lettuce in another row opposite tomatoes and cukes.
11. Once steak has rested, thinly slice crosswise and shingle slices down across middle of platter. Season steak and avocado with more salt and pepper, then drizzle remaining dressing over avocado and steak. So fancy!
I was shocked at how EASY this recipe was to execute. It look no time at all and I feel so much more comfortable handling precious ingredients like that NY Strip. While I don’t think i’ll be shelling out that kind of cash for a weekday dinner on the reg, i’ll definitely keep this recipe in mind while entertaining.